Children are not ours

Brad and Courtney Borodaty sitting in their car prepared to leave

I experienced a circle of life moment earlier this summer when Brad and Courtney relocated to Michigan. It stirred up memories of when I left my parents’ home to move to Southern California. At the time, I figured it was a temporary move. I thought I would spend a few years on the west coast and then move back closer to Pennsylvania.

Well, I’ve been in Southern California for over 30 years. So unless your definition of temporary is different than mine, I’d say my move was permanent. And while they will always be welcomed back, something tells me Brad’s relocation will be permanent, too.

When I was preparing for my relocation in 1991, I felt a lot of anticipation. I had accepted my job offer in March of that year home and couldn’t wait to head out west in June. I wasn’t necessarily excited about leaving, but I was looking forward to being on my own, exploring and experiencing an area that, for me, was new and different.

Even with the anticipation and excitement, the day I drove away was hard. I remember how full I had packed the 1984 Honda Accord my dad gifted me for my college graduation. I vividly remember my mom and dad standing there as I drove down the driveway, turned left onto PA Route 88, and made my way out to Interstate 70 to start the long drive to Southern California. A lot of tears were shed that day by everyone, and I was probably close to West Virginia before I had pulled myself back together.

Fortunately, when Brad and Courtney drove away, there weren’t many tears shed. It’s not that I wasn’t sad to see them leave. I would have loved to have them settle down nearby. Over the last few years, I’ve enjoyed all of our get togethers, family dinners, and day trips. Brad and I went golfing frequently, caught up on beers on a regular basis, and watched or went to sporting events every now and then. Those times will certainly be sorely missed. On the other hand, I recognize the Brad and Courtney need to grow and explore. They need to experience life on their own terms, not mine.

Perhaps this passage from The Prophet by Kahil Gibran puts it best. As it states, our children are not our children. They come through us but not from us, and though they are with us, they do not belong to us.

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

-from “The Prophet” by Kahil Gibran

Maybe I was able to hold back the tears from my own experience leaving home. While their move may be permanent, I know this good-bye won’t be. It may not be as often, but we’ll still get together, whether they come to visit us, we go to visit them, or we go somewhere on a family vacation. I also know that there are still plenty of golf outings that Brad and I want to do, especially given our incredible experiences on the Monterey Peninsula and at Bandon Dunes. Best of all, these times when we do get together will be even more special and valuable. They are times that I will look forward to and cherish more than those I took for granted when they lived just five minutes away.

There are times when I like to think (or wish) that Brad and Courtney will move back, but I don’t see it happening, nor do I expect it. Despite some personal disappointment, I’ve come to accept that this is the best move for them to make at this stage of their lives. While I would like them to stay close by, it’s not about what I want. They need to live their own life and chart their own course. I feel like Lisa and I have done our job. We have nurtured them and set them on their way. Our role is different now. It isn’t to nurture, to guide, or to direct them, but to support them as they set out and explore new paths and create their own life experiences. This quote from an unknown source on the internet says it better than I could. It reminds me of the words Courtney’s dad spoke at their wedding, when he knew that his daughter was moving to Southern California.

To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you means you’ve done your job.

They are not ours to keep but to teach how to soar on their own.

-Unknown

Yes. Watching Brad and Courtney back out of the driveway and head down Lantana Street brought back a flood of memories. It was like reliving my departure from home from my parents’ perspective. Even though it was hard for me to leave on that day 30 years ago, it was the start of an amazing journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I wish for Brad and Courtney’s journey to be just as amazing and fulfilling, and I intend to support them every step of the way.

And just like that, life comes full circle, and it continues rolling along.

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